Firstly, it is important to determine if you, and the lease you signed. are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (Vic) 1997. Many housing providers claim they are not bound by the Act, but they usually are.
The main exemption that relates to student housing is section 21, Residential Tenancies Act (Vic) 1997: Educational institutions. Generally, to be exempt, the student accommodation must be part of a specific learning institution or be formally affiliated with a particular institution, and the accommodation is used primarily to house students of that particular institution. Formal affiliations require a written agreement between the accommodation provider and the institution.
Even if the provider is exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act, the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 still applies, which may have some benefits for you.
Breaking a lease in student accommodation can be more financially risky than breaking an ordinary lease. There are three main reasons:
- student housing generally can only be let to enrolled students;
- once semester has started, fewer students are looking to move in so it is more difficult to find a new tenant; and
- some student accommodation places already have lots of vacant rooms.
The law is unclear whether the landlord needs to prioritise letting out your vacant room or whether they are legally entitled to rent out other vacant rooms first, thus leaving you potentially liable to pay more money.
The process to break a lease is the same as breaking a lease in any other situation. You may be able to end your lease using one of the five options (above) But if none of these suits your circumstances see breaking a lease for more options/information.
If you are unsure as to your best option either seek legal advice or consider making the application for a reduction.